Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 34
Kelly Edwards '85, Vice President of Talent Development
and Programming at HBO
here have been speeches, hashtags, and columns about
the lack of diversity in Hollywood. From #OscarsSoWhite
to the call for more females in directors' chairs, the
public has been clamoring for more diversity in front
of and behind the camera.
As Vice President of Talent Development and Programming at
HBO, Kelly Edwards's goal is to bring lasting diversity to film and
television, which she says requires two things: executives expanding
their contact lists and more people of color with green-lighting ability.
For Edwards, that means bringing unknown but gifted executives,
directors, writers, and more to the attention of her fellow HBO
"This is, and always will be, a town of 'who you know.' But if you
don't know many people when you go to staff up your series, crew up
production, or hire an executive, your choices are limited," says
Edwards. "I can guarantee you the people I put up for jobs are every
bit as talented as the next guy, but they haven't always had the same
access. My job is to push the doors open to let them into the room."
Edwards has found talent in many places-from film festivals to
comedy clubs. At HBO, she's spearheaded two programs that help
groom tomorrow's leaders in film and television. HBOAccess is
one. It gives writers and directors a foot in the door, offering them
opportunities to work on HBO-affiliated programs. They don't work
on the big hits-they aren't directing episodes of Game of Thrones.
They typically work on new and original projects associated with
HBO and Cinemax.
"The first people who came into the program were Ryan Coogler
[director of Creed, Fruitvale Station, and the upcoming Black Panther],
and Nisha Ganatra, who ended up winning a Golden Globe for
Transparent," Edwards says.